Challenge: You are either a hypnotist having fun with people’s minds or you are the victim of a hypnotist’s whims. What happened while under a trance and what happened after?
HERR MESMER AND THE AIRMAN
© 2013 by David Wainland
“You are getting sleepy…” I must have repeated that a dozen or so times. Nothing happened, “See, I said, hypnosis is bull. Because you saw somebody do it on a stage doesn't make it real.”
“No buts, Collins, its bull!”
“Look Wainland, I've been reading all about it, here’s the book. I think I can learn how, and you, you have such a big mouth you could be a pro.”
I took the book and later on that evening I climbed into my barracks bunk and began reading.
It was late 1958, I am eighteen and the Air Force had stationed me at Keesler AFB, in Biloxi, Mississippi. I was there for radar training, but I spent more time learning about, “Mesmerism” than tracking aircraft.
The more I read the more logical it seemed. I learned about the stages of somnambulism, the levels of sleep, about Mesmer, the father of hypnosis, and the modern day applications. The book even suggested that some day it might be used in other forms of medicine besides psychiatry. Two weeks into the book I began experimenting with simple suggestions.
As boring as barrack life is I had no shortage of subjects. The more I worked at it the more successful I became. Word got out and airmen from other squadrons came to watch me perform.
“My turn, do me,” they lined up for my little experiments. The problem was finding out if the subject faked it or really fell under. I tried tricks, like pinching and pricking with pins. By the time radar graduation approached I was going where I should not have gone. I messed with psyches, tried stronger and stronger suggestions, and even tried smoking cures.
One morning I had a friend under when a sergeant surprised me.
“Wainland, wake him, now, don’t you know that messing around like this can get you court marshaled?”
“Yes sergeant.” And I gave the command to wake when I snapped my fingers, I snapped and he remained asleep. The sergeant face turned red and I snapped louder. This time it worked.
“Wainland, you've been warned.”
I stayed low for a week, ignoring the pressure from my bunk mates. Then, one day I capitulated. One of the guys begged me to put him under.
“Please, Wainland, I just want to see if I can be hypnotized.”
“OK, just this once, sit down on the edge of the bunk and try to relax. Let me do the talking. Place your hands on your knees while I begin.” I went into my pitch.
Moments later I checked him for depth of sleep. He appeared to be under.
Somehow I think I may have given him conflicting suggestions and he seemed to be going through some kind of mental conflict. I tried to arouse him, but he began to convulse, shaking, mumbling and then his body contracted into a ball. I repeated the command to awake, repeated it again, and then almost hysterical I began to shake him. One of the other men ran for water, dumping a glassful on him, it worked. He came around, or at least I thought he did.
Later one of the guys told me I had been tricked. It was all an act.
“Are you sure?” I asked. My temper rising.
“I think it was an act.”
“Then you’re not sure?”
I could not take the chance and never again practiced my hobby/craft.
Well, almost never.